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Dutch Web Alliance:
Technology Choices
October 13, 2014 @ 09:17:07

On the Dutch Web Alliance blog today Stefan Koopmanschap talks about making technology choices, how flexibility comes into play and suggestions on what to do when things go wrong. He uses some of his own experience (and problems) to illustrate his points.

The amount of times I come into an organization that says any of the above is impossible to keep track of on one hand. Or even two. Most development shops for some reason have decided that they have a single tool that will fit the job. Always. I have to admit the current market is good for developers. There are many projects available, and not enough developers or agencies to work on all of them. [...] But too many times have I encountered projects where the used tool actually was not optimal for the project. I would like to make a case against starting with a full stack from the start. Obviously, this approach does not work for all projects, but too many projects start out small but with a full stack. I'm going to take an old project of mine as an example of how to start out small and not grow until you need to.

He talks about the project first, a transcoding tool that used a third-party service and generate a playlist once the process was complete. He shares some of his thinking about the technology involved (Symfony2 without the full Symfony2 stack) and the decision to go with Cilex. He also talks about database choices (PDO over Doctrine) and how starting with small pieces like this makes it easier to change things in the future (or when a roadblock looms ahead). Then comes the "what went wrong" part of the development - debugging the system without the direct access needed to view the logs. Instead he worked around it, made a simple endpoint to show the logs and output it via Twig templates.

The result of all this work, including changes and extensions, was still a very small and lean application that combined the power of the commandline with a simple but effective web interface. I am sure I could have done a similar thing with Symfony2, but the code would've been overkill. [...] It is important to realize that there is not always a need for full stack frameworks or huge CMS'es like Drupal. Sometimes you need to start small and just let it grow.
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Link: https://dutchweballiance.nl/techblog/technology-choices/

Tobias Hermann:
Programming language subreddits and their choice of words
August 21, 2014 @ 12:14:13

Tobias Hermann has put together some interesting statistics pulled from the various programming subreddits on the Reddit.com site. He measures the choice of words for each community based on how own they're used.

While reading about various programming languages, I developed a hunch about how often different languages are mentioned by other communities and about the average conversational tones used by relative members. To examine if it was just selective perception on my site, an unconscious confirmation of stereotypes, or a valid observation I collected and analysed some data, i.e. all comments (about 300k) written to submissions (about 40k) in respective programming language subreddits from 2013-08 to 2014-07 using PRAW and SQLite. In this article I will present some selected results.

He first covers the "mutual mentions" for each of the groups with the largest connection from the PHP subreddit being to Python. He also compares the results to the TIOBE index for each (average popularity). He gets into more details about the words used (abstract, category, pure, etc) with PHP placing somewhere roughly in the middle for most data sets. The most interesting result, however, came with the set of curse words and the frequency of their use. In the PHP Reddit community the usage of these terms is, by far, the most of any group. Unfortunately, PHP also ranks lower on the "happiness" scale.

If you're interested in seeing how he came up with these results, you can get the raw results and the code he used.

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programming community language word choice subreddit

Link: https://github.com/Dobiasd/programming-language-subreddits-and-their-choice-of-words/blob/master/README.md

Loosely Coupled Podcast:
Episode 8 Do You Even Polyglot?
August 04, 2014 @ 09:05:30

The Loosely Coupled podcast has posted the eighth episode of their podcast (hosted by PHP community members Jeff Carouth and Matt Frost) asking "Do you even polyglot?"

In this episode Jeff and Matt talk about the idea of polyglotism, the benefits, practical advice about choosing which languages to learn and how to be successful while learning new languages. You should go out and find a new language and prepare to give it the time it deserves. It's best to find a mentor or someone to help you and step out of your language or paradigm comfort zone.

They mention several other topics including Clojure, the splat operator and fellow community members Joel Clermont and Igor Wiedler. You can listen to this latest episode either through the in-page audio player or by downloading the mp3 directly.

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looselycoupled podcast ep8 polyglot multiple language choice success

Link: http://looselycoupled.info/blog/2014/07/22/episode-8-do-you-even-polyglot/

SitePoint PHP Blog:
Why Choose PHP Over Alternatives?
February 24, 2014 @ 11:25:45

On the SitePoint PHP blog Bruno Skvorc has a new article with a few of the reasons why to choose PHP over other alternatives. It's a quick post with only a few points, but it's interesting for its choices of when not to use PHP.

It's a popular question. Why indeed should one pick PHP over one of the alternatives? After all, PHP has often been dismissed as a unusable and badly designed language. Why would anyone choose it, when starting a project from scratch? Instead of listing the reasons why people do choose it (mostly widespread availability), let's instead focus on why people should choose it. We can't talk about that, however, without first mentioning why they shouldn't.

Among their suggestions of when not to use PHP are things like building command line applications and "just because it's there" on your shared hosting. There's a section near the end of the article that talks about some of the work that's been done to try to dispel the "bad press" PHP has gotten and how other languages (his illustration is Javascript) have the same kind of taunting and nitpicking happening as well.

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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/why-choose-php/

Paul Jones:
Publish Your Failures; or, The Way Of All Frameworks
October 29, 2013 @ 12:19:59

Paul Jones has an interesting post on his site today talking about how how your "framework of choice" will eventually fail even if there is long term support for it. He points to another article about trial and error and emphasizes that (as Richard Feynman has said) failures are just as important as successes.

When it comes to expanding a body of knowledge, the failures are just as important as the successes, perhaps more so in some cases. (Be careful here; they have to be "honest" failures, where you had some reason to believe in advance that it had a good chance of working.) So what is it about the "Pipe Dream" article [here] that impressed me? It is that the the author first signals his tribe membership by mentioning his "framework of choice", then proceeds to try to do some work outside of that tribe.

Paul goes on to talk about the usefulness of stepping outside of your norm - your framework of choice - and getting a wider perspective on how others do things. He looks at some of the ways that current frameworks could fail in the future and figuring out how well it will deal with it when it does. He points out that several times the failure comes from "subsystem failures" and that systems that allow the swapping out of these components would handle things more gracefully. He gives the example of the Aura framework of this, being highly component-based.

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failure framework choice future component aura

Link: http://paul-m-jones.com/archives/4757

Greg Freeman:
Your PHP Framework Choice doesn't Matter
August 22, 2013 @ 11:45:18

In this new post Greg Freeman suggests something contrary to what most PHP developers (and framework supporters) believe - your choice of PHP frameworks doesn't matter...if you're basing it on speed.

I'm talking about the speed of PHP and more specifically, evaluating frameworks and tools based on "speed". If you have been in the PHP developer community for more than a few months, you would have seen at least a few discussions about what the fastest PHP framework is, as if this were one of the first key metrics you should evaluate first when choosing a framework for your team. You may even be contemplating switching from your current framework because you heard of a new framework that is faster. In the rest of this article, I'm going to do my best to show you why this not the best line of thinking and provide alternate and in my opinion better metrics for evaluating tools.

He talks about "frontend" versus "backend" PHP developers and how most PHP devs fit into the first category, not knowing how their applications really execute on the backend. This includes a pretty high-level concept of "speed." For his examples, he sets up a WordPress instance and fills it with some dummy content. He illustrates how, with a bit of tweaking on the "backend" side of things (server, environment, etc) the performance of the application can be greatly varied. He includes the specs for the environment he ran the tests in, some of the things he changed and a summary of the results.

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framework choice speed benchmark frontend backend environment

Link: http://www.gregfreeman.org/2013/your-php-framework-choice-doesnt-matter

Pixelstech.com:
Should we use Abstract class or Interface?
April 18, 2013 @ 09:22:23

On the Pixelstech.com site today there's a new post that talks about the differences between abstract classes and interfaces and when's the best time to use either (or both).

When we write programs, we may often get into a situation where we don't know whether we should use Abstract class or Interface when we want to define an abstract object. These two are very similar and they are interchangeable. On Stackoverflow, this question is asked many times, it's related to many programming languages. Also in the official documentation of PHP regarding the Abstract class and Interface, people are arguing about this. To understand this question, we need to understand their differences and use scenarios.

They provide examples of abstract class and interface usage with one of the main differences being that you can define functionality in abstract classes. There's also examples showing classes that extend the abstract class while implementing the interface at the same time, helping to define the object structure to an even finer level.

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abstract class interface tutorial choice extends implements

Link: http://www.pixelstech.net/article/1366044255_Should_we_use_Abstract_class_or_Interface_

PHPMaster.com:
6 Things to Consider when Choosing a Framework
April 08, 2013 @ 11:29:07

PHPMaster.com has posted a list of six things they think you should think about as you're selecting the framework for your next application.

You've decided that it makes sense to use a framework when writing your next new application, and chances are that if you're already familiar with a specific framework, then you'll probably be leaning towards using that one when you start. But are you sure it's really the most appropriate for the task at hand? In the name of due-diligence, here are some of questions that you should ask yourself before settling on a particular framework to make sure you're not programming "against the grain" and also to make sure it will be able to meet your needs now and in the long-term.

He doesn't get into any specifics of any PHP frameworks out there, but suggests general questions to ask even before getting too deep into the technology:

  • What do I need from the framework?
  • Do I expect the framework to help manage consistency?
  • Is good documentation available?
  • Is the framework actively developed, and does it have an active user base?
  • Does the framework work in what I run in production?
  • What business factors are influencing my decision?
Not every application needs to be written using a framework. But if you've decided that yours does, then it's beneficial to compare your needs against the features and benefits of the various framework offerings.
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framework choice advice questions information

Link: http://phpmaster.com/6-things-to-consider-when-choosing-a-framework

Brandon Savage:
Languages Don't Matter (Part Deux)
January 16, 2013 @ 11:54:29

In a follow-up to his previous article about why languages don't matter, Brandon Savage has a new post (part two) carrying on the theme but getting more into the thought patterns behind language selection and use.

Developers like to think that companies hire developers to write code. But companies do not hire developers to write code; they hire developers to solve problems. They hire developers with the expectation that the developer knows about, or can learn about, the problems of the company, and find a creative solution to those problems at minimal cost.

It is therefore up to the developer to choose what tools they will use to achieve the outcome. The customer doesn't much care what tools the developer uses; they only care that the outcome they desired is achieved.

He goes on to talk about preferences in the tools "used by craftsmen" and why they're less important than the result of the work they create. He notes that languages matter, but only in a certain context - as a piece of a puzzle, a part of a whole to reach an objective of functioning software.

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language opinion choice tool goal software development


Phil Sturgeon:
Understanding Circumstance
August 22, 2012 @ 10:15:08

Phil Sturgeon has a new post to his site today comparing a few different types of developers and discussing language/tool zealots among them (and a plea for tolerance and understanding).

What is it you do as a developer? As I see it in web dev there are a few different types: Hobbiest, Client Web Dev, Distributed Application Devs, Web App Developer (SaaS) and Corporate Dev. What do they all have in common? They're all using some sort of language to make some sort of system for somebody somewhere. That is about the last connecting factor that most of us developers actually share. [...] The crazy thing here is that most developers who are in a situation where they can use whatever system they like, often end up picking a specific tool and using it to death. This is ridiculous, as every developer should use the best tool for the job.

He talks a bit about each of the different categories of developers and where he sees their place in the world of development. He points out some of the restrictions of each type of position (required technologies, dependencies, etc) and comes to his point about their choices:

The point I am trying to make in all of this, is that while you might have really strong opinions about what language, framework, version of the framework or version of the language you use, EVERYONE has a totally different situation to you.
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